Talking climate change and policy solutions with world leaders

Bryce Cracknell, a junior who has participated in the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ DukeImmerse program, Pathways to Change and serves as a Kenan research assistant, recently traveled with several Duke classmates to Atlanta to take part in the Feb. 16 “Climate & Health Meeting” national conference to address climate change.

Cracknell, who is majoring in public policy with a concentration in race and poverty and a minor in environmental science and policy, has spent his three years at Duke researching aspects of sustainability and human rights. In addition to participating in Kenan programming, he has performed research with Catherine Coleman Flowers, director of the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise and a practitioner-in-residents with the Duke Human Rights Center @ the Franklin Humanities Institute. Flowers acted as a panelist at the Climate and Health Meeting, and extended an invitation to Cracknell t attend.

At the conference, Cracknell spent the day meeting with policy makers and thought leaders in public service and higher education. “We heard a lot about how it’s important to make health a larger component of climate change,” he said. “Making humans the face of climate change instead of only polar bears and penguins.”

During his time at the conference, Cracknell had the chance to meet former vice president Al Gore, former president Jimmy Carter and hear from European Union leaders who presented on best practices of monitoring climate change and data collection.

The topics were of particular interest to Cracknell. In August 2015, he spent time as part of a team with Flowers in Lowndes County, Alabama, where he worked to conduct surveys with local community members about their access to wastewater infrastructure.

“We can look for ways to create policy solutions for rural communities around us with infrastructure, clean water, wastewater and even coal ash here in North Carolina,” he said.